The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center's newly unveiled brand design is intended to combine the center's world-changing potential with the name of a world-famous Omaha family, say the people who spent more than eight months developing it.
The largest word is “Buffett,” in between the smaller “Fred & Pamela” and “Cancer Center.”
Its icon has two “C's” for cancer center, arranged in way that makes a “B” for the family and a “3” for the center's focus on research, treatment and education. The colors include pink and blue for cancers in men and women; dark red and bright red for the center's two medical partners; and green to symbolize life and health.
Adopted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its hospital partner, the Nebraska Medical Center, the nameplate will be visible from Dodge Street near Saddle Creek Road when the building is finished in 2016, as well as being animated online and printed on pins, stationery, name tags and other signs and emblems.
The design started with brain-storming sessions to dream up words to describe the then-unnamed center — transform, translational, genomics, hope, determination, accelerate and personal, among others.
Over the weeks that followed, a “visual keyword pyramid” emerged, said Greg Daake, who heads an Omaha brand identity company, Daake, and is a consultant for the project: Together at the base, topped by Customized, Energy, Boundless and, at the pinnacle, Majestic.
“It's purposely simple,” yet it has different levels that carry messages, said Tadd Pullin, senior vice president for marketing and strategy for the Nebraska Medical Center.
“Together,” for example, references the two medical partners, the cancer clinicians and researchers, the public-private partnership that supports the center and the families united in fighting cancer. “Customized” refers, among other things, to the gene-based treatments that can target individual cancer patients. And “energy” describes the urgent nature of cancer research and treatment, plus the dedication of the people who carry them out.
From hundreds of shapes and color combinations, the icon started with two C's, which were rotated and interlocked to create the B and the 3, with the colors applied so they cross over each other. The brand's words send a message through simple but forceful type, Daake said.
To tie into the forward-looking energy of the cancer center, he said, the icon is on the right side and the words have uneven endings on the right, indicating movement to the future.
Mike Breazeale, an assistant marketing professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and self-described “branding nerd,” said the Buffett design is “dynamic, with the circles that look like they're in motion.”
“What you want is for the logo to tell the person who sees it what the institution or the company is all about,” Breazeale said, as well as creating interest and attracting attention in a positive way.
“I think they do that with this one,” he said. “It signifies that they're moving forward and there's a lot of activity, and that's something good that you would want to see in a cancer center.”
The large, dark gray “Buffett” creates a good response because the name has a positive public connotation, he said. If a logo emphasizes a negative word — such as “cancer” — people subconsciously react by tuning it out.
“The use of colors is a really good idea,” Breazeale said. “It does draw attention and people will look at it longer. The meanings of the colors may be lost on most people, but it will encourage discussion about the logo and what it means.”
Overall, he said, “it's simple. It's bold where it needs to be. The colors and movement up top are what really will draw the eye. They do a really good job of that.”
Robin Donovan, managing principal for Omaha advertising firm Bozell, said a brand design, in general, should be contemporary but not trendy so it will stand the test of time. The colors, type face and arrangement of the elements can send messages to people who see it.
“Simplicity is very important,” she said, because people tend to look at a logo for only a few seconds.
Pamela Buffett and her second cousin Susie Buffett, who is the daughter of Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, looked at four possible designs and picked the same one that the design team also preferred, Pullin said.
Pamela Buffett is the lead donor in a successful $160 million drive for private money toward building the cancer center. The fund drive continues for money to support cancer center programs.
Her husband, Fred Buffett, died of cancer in 1997. She is donating an undisclosed amount of money to honor him and to encourage cancer research and treatment.
Her wealth comes from early investments made with Fred's cousin Warren. The brand design was revealed at a Tuesday evening dinner attended by about 500 civic and business leaders, including Warren Buffett and other family members, at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.
In a video shown during the dinner, Pamela Buffett said she couldn't have made the donation without Warren, whom she called her “money doctor.”
“Warren has made this all possible,” she said. “I thank you for this opportunity to do this.”
The Omaha World-Herald Co. is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Pamela Bartling Buffett speaks about her decision to donate toward the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and its hospital partner, the Nebraska Medical Center. The video was presented at a dinner Tuesday evening held at the CenturyLink Center to honor the project's donors.
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